Enforcement of COVID-19 Restrictions Not Always a Determent for Results

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Like most other cities in Southern California, the Coronavirus is hitting Burbank very hard again. Despite precautions being taken by government officials, the lack of real enforcement plus the public’s general disregard for safety measures is fueling the fire.

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Cases in Burbank has skyrocketed from about 30 to 40 confirmed cases a week to new milestones this week with 174 new cases reported last week, which was 32 more cases reported for the week before. Deaths have also risen and now standard 87 in Burbank alone.

The Burbank City Council voted a couple of weeks ago to have an outside company come in and enforce a mask ordinance which they passed. Wildan Engineering was hired to enforce the ordinance and was authorized to administer administrative citations to anyone, not in compliance with the ordinance.

According to Sgt. Derek Green of the Burbank Police Department, Wildan started on October 16 and issue warnings until October 30 at which time they began to issue citations. As of November 12, 3740 contacts had been made with 13 citations issued. of those issued, 12 were in downtown Burbank while the other one was in a park. Green said that the company’s focus is on education first with a citation only as a last resort.

While Wildan has been authorized to work and issue citations anywhere in Burbank they have been tasked by the city, there have been certain areas of focus that they primarily work on which includes Downtown Burbank, parks, and the Chandler Bike Way. Green said that the company has employees out in the field every day there primarily been focused on the weekends during peak population times. They will door complaints take them, however.

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Burbank City Attorney Amy Albano stressed in an email that the hiring of Wildan to enforce the cities face-covering order was to gain voluntary compliance. When asked what the ramifications were for a person who had been issued a citation did not pay, she said, “Anyone cited, whether or not they live in Burbank, who fails to pay the administrative fine or file an appeal, will owe the penalty to the City.  Collection of such a debt is a similar process to when someone fails to pay a parking ticket.  It is an enforceable debt no matter where the person resides.”

Albano was also happy with the success of the program since only 0.35% of the people contacted had to actually be cited. She said the main component was again voluntary compliance. Wildan will first offer a mask for someone and only site as a last resort.

While mask citations seem to have a policy, it appears that businesses can slip through the cracks in the system.

Burbank police and Los Angeles County health officials have fielded numerous complaints about businesses, especially gyms, who are not in compliance with the mandates from L.A. County health. There seems to be a communication issue that both assume the other is doing something about the situation.

As an example, Enrich Gym located at Buena Vista and Victory has been cited on seven different occasions according to the County Health website. After talking to a County inspector, he said that all they could do was to cite the businesses and they had no authority to take any other action. He said it was up to the city that the business was in to take further steps against their license to operate in that city.

According to Albano, “The City of Burbank follows up on complaints regarding noncompliance with LA County Health orders. The staff makes contact with the business and reminds them of the safer at home order and that the County has determined that their business may not be open indoors, there are indoor occupancy limitations, masks must be worn, etc.” she also said that if they received multiple complaints about a business, that Burbank police officers will pay a visit to the establishment remind them of the safer at-home order.

Since citations are issued by Los Angeles County Health agents, it appears that some of these businesses accept the fine and continue to do business as normal with no ramifications toward their business licenses. With the number of cases rising substantially daily, there need to be greater ramifications for multiple citations to a business. According to most officials, voluntary compliance is what they are seeking but there seem to be no ramifications to a business that openly flaunts the ordinance by receiving multiple citations.

If you see a situation where people are ignoring the face-covering ordinance, green says you can call the Burbank Police Department at 818-238-3000 and they will take your complaint. They will then send out somebody from Wildan to investigate. If you feel a business is in noncompliance, you may call County Health at 888-700-9995.

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